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Perils of Translation

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Economist Steve Levitt is an economist and author of Freakonomics, a bestseller in the U.S. and in the process of being published in myriad countries and languages all over the world. From his recent post Levit and Dabner?.

The second thing I noticed is that it was written by Stiven D. Levit and Stiven Dz. Dabner. Isn’t it strange to change the names of the authors? I can see if you are using a different alphabet you might not have a choice, but would it be normal to take the second “t” off my last name, or to turn “Dubner” into “Dabner?”

Seeing this, I wondered what they would do with the popular names listed in the last chapter. In most of the foreign versions, they simply reprint the American names. (I wonder how much the Korean and Chinese readers got out of this chapter?). But not in the Serbian version.

If you were a Serbian reader, you would be left believing that some of the blackest names in America are Sanis and Precis, and some of the whitest are Dzejk and Hanter. And our predictions for the most popular American names in 2015: Vejverli, Kejt, Aser, and Vil.

For more on that subject I highly recommend Douglas Hofstadter’s Le Ton Beau De Marot.

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Category: literary pretensions


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